Shari became a member of the national non-profit MediaWatch (now Media Action) volunteering in 1990, joining the board later the same year, and – there being no glass ceiling in underfunded women’s organizations – was elected president the year after that. During almost 10 years of service, she delivered hundreds of media literacy presentations to educators, students, parents, health professionals and marketing executives; developed and led content analysis, media monitoring and audience research projects; wrote and/or delivered dozens of print and broadcast commentaries on the social impacts of media; and appeared before the CRTC as an expert witness on issues related to the social impacts of media and broadcasting policy.
In 2010, she founded Informed Opinions, a self-sustaining non profit project of Media Action, aiming to bridge the gender gap in Canadian public discourse. It does so by amplifying women’s voices and building women’s leadership through media engagement. Since 2010, under Shari’s leadership, the project has partnered with more than 60 universities, NGOs and private companies to train and support expert women to contribute their ideas and analysis to information media. Shari develops and delivers tailored programming (workshops and keynote presentations) that has empowered hundreds of women to appreciate the public value of their expertise, find their voices and write and deliver commentary through influential media outlets (print, broadcast and online) across the country.
She is currently building on the success of Informed Opinions with a new initiative, ExpertWomen.ca/FemmesExpertes.ca. Due to launch in 2016, this online database aims to make the claim “but we couldn’t find any expert women” obsolete. Profiling a diversity of Canadian women with informed opinions on a wide range of topics in a multiplicity of disciplines and fields, the website will make it easier for journalists, conference planners and recruiters to identify knowledgeable women willing to share their insights with the broader public.
Shari has also contributed in a volunteer capacity to:
- The BC Centre for Excellence in Women’s Health (board member, chair 1997-2009)
- The BC National Award for Non-fiction (judge, 2012)
- Capilano College (board member, 1995-1997)
- The Feminist History Society (organizing committee, 2009-2010)
- The University of Ottawa Task Force on Respect and Equality (2014-2015)
- The Women’s Future Fund (board member, chair, 2003-2008)